The Form of Life of Saint Clare - 106 

The Form of Life of Saint Clare
(1253)

Introduction

The last years of Clare’s life were characterized  by her struggle  to have her vision of religious  life approved  by the  Church.  In order to understand her  Form of Life for  the   Poor Ladies, it  is  helpful   to  read  those  which preceded it, those of Cardinal Hugolino and Pope Innocent IV, which were based on the Benedictine  Rule and the canonical legislation of the twelfth and  early thirteenth  centuries.  Clare’s insistence  on  her own  Form of Life no doubt   came  from years of attempting to live the vision Francis inspired in her within the limits of these documents, imposed as they were by men who did not comprehend  the  uniqueness  of her vision. It is remarkable that  Clare became   the  first woman  to  write  a  religious rule  and,   in  so doing,  inaugurated a  totally new  epoch  for women in  the  life of  the Church.a

Although   it had  been  overlooked  among   the  relics of Clare until  1893, the  original document   with the  papal bull of Innocent IV is still  preserved in the  Protomonastery of Saint  Clare in Assisi. The manuscript contains two phrases handwritten  by the pope: “Ad instar fiat! S. [So be it!]” and “Ex causis manifestis michi et protectorii mon[asterii] fiat ad instar. [For  reasons known to me and the protector of the monastery, so be it!]”   The first of these   is the  formula  of approval  given  by  Innocent  IV who  uses  the  first letter of his baptismal  name,  Sinibaldo,  as his signature;  the  second  is a

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Clare of Assisi: Early Documents, p. 106

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